Thunk! Thunk! Thunk!
That's the sound of apples coming down in a windstorm at our house. Since we don't have too many on the trees this year - could be apple scab, fire blight or the treacherous spring rains and cool temperatures - those three thunks represent about a fifth of what we stand to get out of one of our big trees.
We enjoy mostly late season apples on the coast - "Liberty" and "Akane" come to mind, as well as apple cultivators that show good resistance to apple scab. That's the disease common in Western Oregon and requiring the greatest number of fungicide sprays to control, according to the Oregon State University Extension Service. Planting scab-immune varieties is a good alternative to using all the fungicides. Since 1985, OSU has tested scab-immune and scab-resistant apple varieties at their experimental farms in Corvallis. The trees received no fungicide applications. "Redder," "Priscilla," "Nova Easy Go" and "Liberty" all mature from August through October and are immune to apple scab. Keep in mind, too, that "Liberty" has been rated as having the best flavor of all the apple-scab immune varieties.
Also, the apple cultivators "Akin (Tokyo Rose)," "Chehalis," "Prima," "Spartan" and "Tydeman Red" have shown good resistance to scab and good quality in our region, according to the 2004 PNW Plant Disease Management Handbook, edited by OSU Extension plant pathologists.
As if scab wasn't enough to worry about, some places in Oregon are sensitive growing regions for fire blight. Susceptible varieties include "Gala," "Fuji" and "Barber."
According to the 2004 Pacific Northwest Plant Disease Control Handbook, the following apple varieties are resistant to fire blight: "Liberty," "Northern Spy," "Prima," "Redder," "Spur Delicious," "Stamen Wines" and "Red Delicious."
Speaking of "Red Delicious," Canadian researchers announced this summer that America's most common apple might also be the best for eating. The government study measured the levels of antioxidants in eight varieties of apples and found that "Red Delicious" contain the highest concentrations of the health enhancing chemicals. You do have to eat the peel to get the benefits.
If you want to eat more apples, and see some of the varieties that I mention above, there are two events that offer fine opportunities for such. Portland Nursery's 18th annual Gourmet Apple Tasting takes place Oct. 7 through 9 and again Oct. 14 through 16. The free event takes place each of these days, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Portland Nursery, 505 S.E. Stark St. Once again, there will be about 40 varieties of apples and pears to taste, with many of them also for sale by the pound at the nursery. The festival event also includes live music, a demonstration tent with lots of cooking demos and vendors. There is also a greenhouse reserved for children's activities, including visits from Eartha the Clown, Cosmo's outrageous balloon creations; face-painting and craft activities and a treasure hunt. Portland Impact will conduct its annual Canned Food Drive - "Bring us a can, get an apple." Oct. 7 is Senior Day, with a percentage of the sales of apples and pears donated to Elders in Action. Field Trip day is Oct. 14, when the nursery welcomes children for apple tasting. Apples and pears remaining after the event is finished will go to the Oregon Food Bank. For more information about the tastings, call (503) 231-5050.
Meanwhile, Raintree Nursery in Morton, Wash., holds an early apple and pear tasting at its nursery Sept. 24. Jams and fruit drinks, preserves and fruit leathers, all made from Raintree fruits, will be available for tasting from noon to 2 p.m. Then you can tour the nursery, starting at 2:30 p.m. The Oct. 22 tasting features a larger selection of apples, and a chance to try some apple cider.
The nursery also holds free tours on Saturdays in October from noon to 2:30 p.m., with cider blended from Raintree's apples. For more information, call (360) 496-6400 or e-mail email@example.com
Cathy Peterson belongs to the Clatsop County Master Gardeners. "In the Garden" runs weekly in Coast Weekend. Please send comments and gardening news to "In the Garden," The Daily Astorian, P.O. Box 210, Astoria, OR 97103 or online to firstname.lastname@example.org
As you ponder the growing number of zucchinis on your kitchen counter, Organic Gardening offers up a list of the best zuchs for organic gardeners. The organic designation means that organically grown seeds are available. You can find out more from the magazine at www.organicgardening.com or pick up a copy.
"Ambassador" - A productive, compact plant that bears firm fleshed zucchini that are medium green flecked with gold. Matures in 50 days.
"Condor" - An early, high-yielding compact variety that produces glossy, deep green fruits with nutty flavor. Matures in 52 days.
"Costata Romanesco" - An Italian type with medium, gray-green fruits that have pale green flecks and ribs. Rich flavor and bears lots of male blossoms for cooking. Matures in 52 days.
"Eight Ball" - This 1999 All-America Selections winner produces early, round, baseball-size fruits that are dark green with gold flecks. Matures in 40 to 55 days.
"French White Bush" - A vigorous white bush from France that bears mild fruits with few seeds. Takes 50 days to mature.
"Gold Rush" - This is an open-foliage, compact, productive bush that resists powdery mildew and bears brilliant golden yellow fruits with bright green stems. Beautiful to behold, too. Takes 45 to 55 days.
"Gourmet Globe" - Dark green, globe-shaped fruit with light ribs and delicious, subtle nutty flavor. Takes 45 days to mature.
"Seneca" - Yields many dark green zuchs. A good bet for the coast, since it likes cooler weather. Takes 42 days to mature.
"Spacemiser" - A compact plant that takes up a third less space than standard zuchs. Fruit are medium to dark green and rich in flavor. Takes 45 to 55 days to mature.